KSDS Assistance Dogs, Inc. has developed a breeding program consisting of yellow and black Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. Our breeder dogs are specifically chosen based on temperament, physical confirmation and health clearances as well as willingness to learn and serve. Physical confirmation is critical for those who need a dog to brace for them when walking or assistance if they fall.
Health clearances include testing the dogs’ hips, elbows, eyes and heart. Our goal is to place the healthiest dogs possible with the expectation that our dogs will be able to assist their partner for eight to ten years.
While KSDS has our own breeding stock, we also work with other assistance dog schools who are accredited through Assistance Dogs International (ADI) throughout the U.S. and internationally. This program is called the North American Breeding Cooperative (ABC) and it provides us the opportunity to share breeding stock with other ADI accredited schools whose dogs have outstanding genetic and health clearances. The KSDS breeding program allows us to produce the best bred dogs for the tasks they are asked to perform on a daily basis.
A question we are often asked is “When do we start working with the dogs?” We start working with the dogs the first couple days they are born. Day one they are simply weighted, day three through 16 we do a Neurological Stimulation program which consists of gently holding the puppy in various positions for three to five seconds, slowly spinning the puppy, applying thermal stimulation by placing the pup on a warm, damp towel and tactical stimulation such as running a Q-tip through their toes as well as exposing them to different scents. Each puppy has their own chart where we document the exercises and record notes about the puppy.
With each day, new activities are introduced including the following:
- brushing the gums with fingers and work up to a toothbrush
- trimming their nails
- brushing their hair with soft bristled brushes
- being away from mom for 30 minutes
- being around a cat
- going on car rides
- mock vet exams
- being around someone with a mask or hat
- outside time with their mom
- watching their mom work
- introducing them to clicker training during meals
Around four or five weeks of age, we welcome the public to help us socialize the puppies. A variety of ages, voices and genders are needed to help the puppies become acclimated to the public they will encounter in life. Generally, two times a week we have kids come in for a 30 minute play session with the puppies. Three days a week we have adult volunteers come to work with the pups. They acclimate the puppies to grooming tools and training equipment such as the collar, leash, crate and even a baby bib on their back to imitate a vest. Interacting with the puppies around items such as a vacuum or mobility aids, like a walker, cane or wheelchair are added. Our volunteers teach the puppies how to sit, lie down and confidently walk on a leash. The puppies are taken outside to experience being on different surfaces such as grass, concrete, gravel and rocks. The puppies eventually begin walking on the sidewalk along the highway to experience the sounds of trucks and other traffic driving through town
If you are interested in helping us socialize our puppies, call us at 785-325-2256.